Diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – the risk to construction (and other) workers

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Recent headline news has made us all too aware of the effects of air pollution on the climate and our health, and this is contributed to significantly by emissions from combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – used extensively in the construction industry. The Mayor of London has responded by targeting the sector with the world’s first “ultra-low emissions zone” for NRMM and – nationwide – under the Clean Air Strategy, the government will be exploring the use of environmental permitting to address the problem.

Whilst “cleaner” engines have started to become available, those powered by diesel are still the most widely used on construction sites, and inhalation of diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) can cause a number of ill health effects – both short term and long term, including – evidence suggests – an increased risk of lung cancer. According to HSE statistics, each year, around 3,000 workers in construction suffer with breathing and lung problems they believe were caused or made worse by their work. That is 0.14% of workers in the sector, compared with 0.09% of workers across all industries.

So, what should be done to prevent this risk?

The below HSE guidance “Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace” includes control measures which can be implemented quickly and easily on a construction site and in other workplaces, e.g. switching off engines when not required, and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance.

But a reduction in pollution can also be achieved through the use of cleaner fuels. Alternatives include low sulphur diesel (LSD), ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD), biodiesel, blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel and emulsified diesel. Low sulphur diesel has sulphur content of 300 – 500ppm and reduces particulate matter (PM) by 10 – 20% compared to non-road diesel fuel (which has a sulphur content or 3000 – 5000ppm).

And pollution control equipment such as diesel oxidation catalysts or diesel particulate filters can be retrofitted directly onto an engines exhaust system.

Under CDM 2015, design decisions made during the pre-construction phase of projects should also be considered, as these too have a significant influence on the health and safety of everyone affected by the work. For example, lighter buildings, often delivered by low carbon building methods (with no increase in cost), can reduce on-site excavation and heavy machinery due to the requirement for smaller foundations. An example of this is the timber structure of Dalston Works in London which weighs a fifth of its concrete equivalent. And as most the construction was off-site, there were 80% fewer site deliveries than usual.

The below guidance can be downloaded by clicking the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg187.pdf and more information is available on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/cancer-and-construction/diesel-engine-exhaust.htm. Alternatively, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace

Legislation

The law requires that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health which arise from exposure to hazardous substances is made, eg DEEEs. This is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and several other regulations, in particular the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Having completed the assessment, there is a further duty to take the necessary steps to prevent or adequately control exposure to the hazard, and to use and maintain the relevant controls.

Risk assessment (COSHH regulation 6)

The health risk assessment will help you to assess the risks to health from exposure to hazardous substances and identify the necessary steps needed for controlling these risks. As workload, frequency of work, and work practices may change over a period, it is necessary to regularly review the assessment. In all but the simplest cases, you should record the assessment.

For DEEEs, the aim of the health risk assessment is to decide on the level of potential exposure, and then on the preventive measures or the level of control which you will need to apply. For example, if there is obvious blue or black smoke in the workplace, the controls need to be more stringent. In some circumstances, such as if there are visible exhaust emissions or complaints of irritancy, the assessment may necessitate carrying out monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the controls.

In order to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment you need to ask a series of questions, find answers and then come to a conclusion. These questions include:

  • How likely is it that exposure to DEEEs will happen?
  • Who could be affected, to what extent and for how long? How many people are potentially exposed to the DEEEs? Can the exposures be avoided?
  • Have there been any ill-health complaints from potentially exposed groups? If yes, what has been done about it?
  • Is the engine being operated at full speed or left idling? What is the purpose of running at idling speed or full speed. Can it be avoided?
  • What is the state of the engine, and how many miles or hours have been completed? Can the engine efficiency be improved, and can operating times and distances be reduced? Improving the efficiency of the engine will also bring financial benefits.
  • What happens to the exhaust emissions: do they enter directly into the workplace, or are they piped away or processed through a treatment system? Could they trigger your fire detection system?
  • Is there visible smoke near the exhaust point? What is the type of smoke, ie white, black or blue? How could it be avoided? Is there a visible haze in the workplace? Can it be avoided and how?
  • What controls are in place to comply with COSHH? Are they satisfactory?
  • Are there soot deposits in the workplace; how significant are they? What can be done to avoid them? What methods are in place for regularly cleaning the workplace?
  • How many engines are running at any one time? Are they all necessary?
  • Is it necessary to use diesel engines, or can alternative power sources be used?

Prevention and control of exposure (COSHH regulation 7)

The answers to the questions in paragraph 17 will guide you in deciding on the actions necessary to prevent or control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace. The control measures you choose need to be based on: the levels of risk and exposure; the type of workplace; present work practices; cost and benefit factors. Because of the variety of workplaces where exposure may occur, the potential exposure and the level of risk will be different. For example, there may be increased exposure where fork-lift trucks are being used in a warehouse all day for moving goods, whereas in a maintenance depot the exposure may be intermittent as the vehicles enter, stay there for maintenance, and then leave.

Prevention

Health and safety legislation requires you to prevent the exposure of employees and others to substances hazardous to health. You should be able to prevent exposure to DEEEs by adopting one or a combination of options, for example:

  • changing the method of work;
  • modifying the layout of the workplace;
  • modifying the operations to eliminate exhaust emissions inside the workplace; or
  • substituting diesel fuel with a safer fuel or alternative technology where practicable, eg compressed natural gas, battery powered vehicles.

Your risk assessment should take account of any other risks posed by these alternative fuels and technologies, for example the use of alcohols may generate greater quantities of aldehydes with possible accompanying irritancy.

Control

There will be situations where it may not be reasonably practicable for you to prevent exposure to DEEEs. In these situations, you should consider the circumstances individually and take the necessary control measures to reduce exposure. These may include:

Engineering controls

  • the use of lower emission or more fuel-efficient engines where possible, eg higher engine injection pressures to reduce particulates, fitting exhaust gas recirculation systems to reduce gaseous oxide emissions;
  • the use of cleaner fuels such as low sulphur diesel fuels;
  • enclosing the exhaust tailpipe from which DEEEs are emitted, for example by using a fixed flexible hose with a tailpipe exhaust extraction system (see Figures 2 and 3);
  • using partial enclosure with local extraction ventilation (LEV) as shown in Figure 4;
  • the use of diesel exhaust gas ‘after-treatment’ systems such as catalytic converters to oxidise organic substances and gases, and catalysed and non-catalysed particulate traps to remove particulate matter;
  • using a combination of LEV and sufficient general ventilation, eg tailpipe exhausts with open doors or roof extraction;
  • using sufficient general ventilation, eg manual or mechanical roof extraction;

Practice and administrative controls

  • using processes or systems of work which will help you to reduce the generation of DEEEs, for example switching off engines when not required for a substantial period of time and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance;
  • where practicable, reducing the number of employees directly exposed and their period of exposure, eg ensuring that office staff working adjacent to DEEE areas are not exposed, job rotation; and

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

  • as exposure to DEEEs is best controlled at source or by other means as described previously, RPE should only be used as a last resort. The RPE chosen should be suitable for protecting against the gaseous and particulate components. The use of nuisance dust masks as worn by cyclists are ineffective against DEEEs and, therefore, should not be used as a means of control in the workplace. Detailed information on RPE for use in the workplace can be found in the HSE guidance book HSG53 Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide.

Use of control measures (COSHH regulation 8)

You should ensure that any control measures are properly used or applied. Employees should make full and proper use of any control measure or personal protective equipment provided by the employer, and report any defects to management for immediate attention.

Maintenance, examination and the testing of control measures (COSHH regulation 9)

You should ensure that all the measures provided to control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace are maintained in an effective state, and kept in efficient working order and in good repair. Where engineering controls are used, they should be thoroughly examined and tested at suitable intervals. LEV, for example, should be thoroughly examined and tested at least once every 14 months.

With the exception of disposable filtering facepiece respirators intended for single shift use, RPE should not be used unless it has had a recent thorough examination and maintenance. The interval between thorough examination and maintenance should not be more than one month.

You should keep a record of such examinations and tests of LEV and RPE for at least five years from the date on which they were made. The record should be readily available for inspection by employees or their representatives, or by enforcement authorities.

Monitoring for exposure to DEEEs in the workplace (COSHH regulation 10)

Under regulation 10 of COSHH, monitoring at the workplace may be required for the following reasons:

  • to determine if there is a failure or deterioration of the control measures which could result in an obvious health effect, eg irritancy from exposure to DEEEs;
  • to determine whether any workplace exposure limit (WEL) or any in-house working standard has been exceeded; and
  • when necessary to check the effectiveness of a control measure provided, eg particulate filter, LEV and/or general ventilation.

The health risk assessment will help you decide if it is necessary to carry out monitoring, for example, to judge the effectiveness of controls. A suitable monitoring strategy, as determined by a competent person such as an occupational hygienist, will indicate whether personal monitoring, fixed placed (static) monitoring, or both are required. It will show which site(s) require monitoring, when and how often, and which sampling and analytical methods would be appropriate.

Personal monitoring for exposure to DEEEs

You may need to carry out personal monitoring to determine the extent of inhalation exposure to DEEEs, and hence the level of risk. Personal monitoring samples should be collected in the breathing zone of the employees. Such samples should be collected where there is a significant potential for exposure during their working shift and include peak exposures, eg while repairing or testing/maintaining an engine, while driving a fork-lift truck or during lashing in ro-ro ferries.

The duration of sampling depends on the workplace situation, such as the nature of the work and the type of monitoring. However, to collect sufficient material from the workplace air and determine the time-weighted average (TWA) exposure, sampling periods will mainly be between six and eight hours. In some instances though, depending on the circumstances, short-term measurements may be all that is required to make decisions on the risk of exposure and level of control. The number of people you decide to sample at each location will depend on the nature of exposure and size of the exposed workforce, for example:

  • processes or operations where exposures are likely to occur;
  • the number, type and position of sources from which the DEEEs are released; and
  • which groups of employees are most likely to be exposed.

Fixed place monitoring

Fixed place monitoring is appropriate in those areas of the workplace where it is impractical to collect personal samples, eg outside a toll booth. Such fixed sampling is useful for determining the effectiveness of your control measures and for measuring background concentrations of DEEEs.

What substances to monitor

Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) above 1000 ppm 8-hour TWA in the workplace, may indicate faulty, poorly maintained or inadequately designed control systems in particular LEV or roof extraction systems. As measurement of the CO2 level is easily carried out and because it is a useful indicator of the overall adequacy of control measures, it may be used as one of the steps in any assessment of the level of exposure to DEEEs.

Respirable dust levels may be measured to help you assess the particulate exposure if, for example, the workload is particularly heavy. However, the levels measured will include particulates from all sources and not just the DEEEs.

In situations where personal exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) may be high (such as at toll booths and in car parks where the majority of vehicles are petrol driven) measurement of CO will provide an indication about the adequacy of controls.

Irritancy

As the definite causes of irritancy are unknown, if any of your workforce complain of this health effect, it is important to look for better means of control rather than to monitor for other gaseous constituents of DEEEs.

Health surveillance (COSHH regulation 11)

Under COSHH, no formal health surveillance is required by employers of those exposed to DEEEs or related emissions. However, if employees are concerned about the short or long-term health effects of exposure to DEEEs, they should discuss the problem with management. If still not satisfied with the outcome, they should voice their concerns with their union representative if available or the works safety representative. Furthermore, if management notices that employees are suffering irritancy effects following exposure to DEEEs, it may indicate that the controls have failed and prompt action is required.

Employers must provide information on health and related matters to employees or their representatives in accordance with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996. Such information allows employees or their representatives to help employers develop control measures.

Information, instruction and training (COSHH regulation 12)

Adequate information, instruction and training should be given to employees on the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to DEEEs and on the proper use of control measures. This information should also be made available to employee safety representatives or other appropriate people.

The information, training and instruction should enable employees to recognise obvious deterioration in the controls used (such as poor maintenance of engines, damage to extraction equipment or ineffective general ventilation), so they can report to employers who would then take the necessary action to rectify the situation.

 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Control of legionella (and other) bacteria in metal working fluids (MWFs)

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water supplies at low concentrations and if conditions (eg temperature and nutrients) are right, these microorganisms will grow. Water mix metal working fluids (MWFs) are mostly water and their industrial use may produce aerosols. Inhaling an aerosol contaminated with Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease. HSE guidance L8 “Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems” recommends that the MWF storage and distribution system of lathe and machine tool coolant systems should be cleaned and disinfected every six months or more frequently if recommended by machine tool or fluid suppliers.

However, the Health and Safety Laboratory has carried out research, Survival of Legionella pneumophila in metalworking fluids, which shows there is a minimal risk of Legionella bacteria contaminating such a system, if the system is properly managed.

HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination of metalworking fluids suggests a risk-based approach, based on monitoring fluid condition and bacterial contamination: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/bacterial.htm

If you can demonstrate that metalworking fluids are managed in accordance with the COSHH essentials sheet Managing sumps and bacterial contamination (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/mw05.pdf) and HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination in metalworking fluids an additional assessment of the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is normally unnecessary. However, further assessment and precautions will be necessary to cover any special circumstances, such as deep cleaning of sumps and machinery with jet washers, where the potential for exposure to airborne hazardous bacteria is much greater. This is due to the disturbance of microbial slime known as biofilm – where Legionella may survive. Avoid water jetting where possible, as it tends to create fine water droplets or mists.

If water jetting is necessary carry out a risk assessment, to include respiratory and other risks such as those arising from the use of high pressure and electricity, see,

More guidance on metalworking fluids can be found on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm

For more information on controlling the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, see Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, ad we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

 

HSE SAFETY ALERT: CHANGE IN ENFORCEMENT EXPECTATIONS FOR MILD STEEL WELDING FUME

The Health & Safety Executive have issued the following safety alert last month (February 2019), aimed at all workers, employers, self-employed, contractors’ and any others who undertake welding activities, including mild steel, in any industry:

KEY ISSUES

  • There is new scientific evidence that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer.
  • There is also limited evidence linked to kidney cancer.
  • There is a change in HSE enforcement expectations in relation to the control of exposure of welding fume, including that from mild steel welding.
  • All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.
  • Where engineering controls are not adequate to control all fume exposure, adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is also required to control risk from the residual fume.

INTRODUCTION

There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.

CONSEQUENCES

With immediate effect, there is a strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding; because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.

OUTCOME

Control of the cancer risk will require suitable engineering controls for all welding activities indoors e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Extraction will also control exposure to manganese, which is present in mild steel welding fume, which can cause neurological effects similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual fume.

Appropriate RPE should be provided for welding outdoors. You should ensure welders are suitably instructed and trained in the use of these controls.

Regardless of duration, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure.

Risk assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures.

ACTION REQUIRED

  • Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
  • Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
  • Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
  • Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
  • Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.

RELEVANT LEGAL DOCUMENTS

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

REFERENCES

WELDING FUME – REDUCING THE RISK

The above HSE guidance can be viewed by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/welding/fume-welding.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 30TH JULY 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Safety Alert

Poor design of scaffold loading bay gate, providing inadequate edge protection to prevent falls from height

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel

Case 363 – Unable to open office windows

Case 357 – Consultants and Letting Agents misinterpreting the risks of exposure to legionella of their tenants

Case 355 – All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V

Case 345 – Council erecting a barrier on sloping grass bank to prevent workers and the public falling onto concrete path below

News & Research

1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos

HSE Research Report 1052 – The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks

Face Fit testing of RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)

Introduction

Welcome to this week’s Health & Safety news update – our second since the launch of our new website. We’re settling into it quite nicely, and hope you are too. Don’t forget that comments and/or feedback are always welcome!

We experienced a few teething problems last week with subscription registrations, and apologise if you were affected by these. Fingers crossed they’ve now been solved, so if you want to receive email notifications of our updates, just click on “Register” (bottom-left), and you’ll be directed to a page where you can enter a user name of your choice, and your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time and each email will contain an unsubscription link for this purpose. If you experience any difficulties at all, please email us at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, or via the “Contact us” page on our website (http://www.eljay.co.uk/contact-eljay-risk-management.php)

This week, after bring your attention to this week’s HSE Safety Alert, we’re quashing a few Health & Safety myths via the ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’, and highlighting the HSE’s asbestos safety campaign, before leading into our new ‘Face Fit Testing’ service with some interesting research on the topic.

HSE Safety Alert

Extendable Scaffolding Loading Bay Gate – use of cable ties to secure loose mesh and unsafe means of operation

HSE has become aware that a number of manufacturers/suppliers are marketing an extendable scaffold loading bay gate that does not satisfy legal requirements or applicable standards when in some configurations. When extended the loading bay gate, which forms part of the edge protection on a scaffold, is not robust enough to fulfil this function and is therefore not suitable and sufficient to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005. For more information click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/loading-bay-gate.htm?ebul=gd-cons/jul15&cr=1 or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead when instead, we should be using good health & safety principles and practice to ensure that work proceeds, but safely. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

Below are just a few of the cases that the panel have recently considered, and their findings.

Case 363 – Unable to open office windows

Issue

Enquirer’s office has been told that they cannot have the keys to open the windows in their office on the 3rd floor as this would breach health and safety. The windows run almost floor to ceiling with the top section opening inwards. Standing next to the window, the open section is just below the enquirer’s chest height (they are 6ft tall). With summer coming the office is getting hotter and they are unable to have any fresh air in the building.

Panel opinion

In some circumstances it may be appropriate to prohibit people from opening windows if there is a real risk of someone falling out; but where this is a concern, the problem can also be addressed by fitting controls to limit the extent to which the windows can be opened. In this particular case it seems more likely that “health and safety” has been used as a cover when the real reason is to do with concerns over the effectiveness of the air conditioning.

“Health and safety” should not be used simply to avoid having a discussion about the real concerns and what solutions might be possible.

Our comment

More information about the safe opening and closing of windows, etc, as well as glazing safety in relation to impact and cleaning, can be found in Building Regulations Approved Document N (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/BR_PDF_ADN_1998.pdf) or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 357 – Consultants and Letting Agents misinterpreting the risks of exposure to legionella of their tenants

Issue

Consultants and letting agents are i) using the revised L8 ACOP to infer there is new legislation regarding landlords responsibilities and ii) misrepresenting what the law requires of landlords of domestic rented properties in relation to assessing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants, for financial gain.

Panel opinion

Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate’. Legionella testing is required only in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water systems. Such letting agents and consultants are scaremongering landlords, for financial gain, by misinterpreting and exaggerating the legal requirements to manage and control legionella in domestic premises.

HSE has published guidance for landlords, free to download from HSE’s website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/faqs.htm – As a landlord, what are my duties?

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg274part2.pdf – PDF – Paragraphs 2.138-2.146

Our comment

Whilst Legionella testing is not always required, if you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, you need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to Legionella by carrying out a risk assessment, which includes management and prevention or control of any risks, as well as keeping and maintain the correct records. For more information click on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 355 – All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V

Issue

The enquirer was tasked with carrying out sound insulation tests in houses on a construction site. The site manager asked him if his equipment was battery operated to which his reply was “no, it will need to be plugged into a 230V socket”. He asked if there was 230V power in the plots and the site manager said yes it was available but all “tools” on site need to run off a maximum of 110V as this was the company policy.

Panel opinion

The enquirer appears to have been planning to work in a completed (or nearly) completed house with the electrical system installed and compliant with requirements for electrical installations. This is a significantly lower risk from when the house is under construction. Whilst health and safety law does not ban 230v tools on construction sites, HSE strongly advises that 110v tools are preferable given the wet, dirty and dusty nature of construction sites and the possibility of mechanical damage to cables and tools.

In this instance a standard which is reasonable for a live, temporary, construction site is being applied to a different (domestic) environment where the risks would be much lower and the electrical system permanent and compliant with the latest standards.  If a site or company decide to impose a higher (disproportionate) standard in this lower risk environment they can but it is not health and safety law that requires this.

Our comment

More information about this construction safety topic can be found on the HSE web page “Electricity – Systems in buildings”. Click on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/systems.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 345 – Council erecting a barrier on sloping grass bank to prevent workers and the public falling onto concrete path below

Issue

A sloping grassed bank, whose base is retained by a vertical wall, runs along behind social housing dwellings. The council has identified a risk of injury to workers from a fall from the top of the retaining wall when working on the bank above and also identified a similar risk of injury for residents and the public who access the bank. The council plans to install a barrier on top of the wall to reduce the risk of fall from height onto the concrete path below.

Panel opinion

The Council is taking a sensible approach to find a way of minimising various risks to its own employees and members of the public. They should continue to discuss with residents to find a suitable means of fencing/protection that reduces risk without restricting access unduly.

Our comment

If you manage or own property in which others live or work, it is your duty to ensure that the premises (inside and out) are in a satisfactory state from a health and safety perspective. Falls from height is just one of the many risks that need to be considered. We provide health & safety inspections of residential and commercial properties, as well as fire and Legionella risk assessments. For more information contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk.

News & Research

1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos

Health and Safety Executive launches new safety campaign as an average of 20 tradespeople die every week from asbestos related disease

Tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year* according to a new survey commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)**.

As well as illustrating how often tradespeople can be exposed to asbestos, the survey revealed some common myths believed by those at risk, with 1 in seven (14 per cent) believing that drinking a glass of water will help protect them from the deadly dust and one in four (27 per cent) thinking that opening a window will help to keep them safe.

Only a third (30 per cent) of those asked, were able to identify all the correct measures for safe asbestos working, whilst more than half (57 per cent) made at least one potentially lethal mistake in trying to identify how to stay safe.

Twenty tradespeople, on average, die every week from asbestos related diseases.

Asbestos can be found in walls and ceilings, or the structure of a building, as well as a host of other places like floor tiles, boilers, toilet cisterns, guttering and soffits.

It can be disturbed by basic maintenance work like drilling holes and sanding and once disturbed, the microscopic fibres can prove lethal if breathed in, causing lung disease and cancer.

The research, undertaken by Censuswide in September 2014, shows that while more than half (53 per cent) knew that asbestos could be in old buildings built before 1970, only 15 per cent knew that it could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

And although many of those surveyed could pinpoint some asbestos-containing materials, others were clueless, with only 19 per cent recognising it could also be hidden in common fixtures such as toilet seats and cisterns.

To encourage tradespeople to think about asbestos on every job so they are prepared to deal with the danger, HSE has launched a new safety campaign. A key feature of the campaign is the creation of a new web app for phones, tablets and laptops that helps tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with the deadly material as they go about their day-to-day work and gives them tailored help on how to deal with the risks.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector for Construction, said:

“Asbestos is still a very real danger and the survey findings suggest that the people who come into contact with it regularly often don’t know where it could be and worryingly don’t know how to deal with it correctly, which could put them in harm’s way. Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe. Our new web app is designed for use on a job so workers can easily identify if they are likely to face danger and can then get straight forward advice to help them do the job safely.”

Former electrical consultant Simon Clark, who in 2012 was diagnosed with mesothelioma – the life-threatening and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – when he was just 52, said:

“When I was younger I didn’t think of the dangers of asbestos and I must have been exposed to it frequently. Since being diagnosed, I’ve had to give up my work and let some of my employees go – which is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is vitally important that everybody knows when they might be exposed and takes the correct steps to protect themselves.”

To download the web app please visit www.beware-asbestos.info/news

For more information on asbestos safety please visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

HSE Research Report 1052 – The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks

HSE Inspectors routinely come across workers with various degrees of stubble growth using respiratory protective masks, despite guidance to the contrary. This research studied the effect of 0-7 days stubble growth on the protection given by FFP3 filtering facepieces and half masks.

Fifteen male volunteers took part, each testing four masks. For most, three different design FFP3 and one half mask were tested, selected from seven models of FFP3 and 2 half masks. Fit tests were carried out immediately after shaving and repeated six times during the following week, without further shaving.

Results showed that the effect on protection was quite specific to the mask/wearer combination.

Protection could be significantly reduced where stubble was present, beginning within 24 hours from shaving, and generally worsening as facial hair grew. Statistical analysis predicted this could reach an unacceptable level for all of the masks tested.

While some individual wearers did grow some stubble without significantly reducing protection with some masks, this was unpredictable and it would not be practical to conduct the necessary testing to confirm this for every individual wearer.

The current guidance advising being clean-shaven in the area of the mask seal is justified.

Face Fit testing of RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)

As you will be aware you must ensure that any RPE you use provides adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE can’t protect the wearer if it leaks. A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight-fitting face-pieces need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective. As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE face-piece will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer and, importantly, will help ensure the safety of your workers.

RPE fit testing should be conducted by a competent person – you should take steps to ensure that person who carries out the fit test is appropriately trained, qualified and experienced, and is provided with appropriate information to undertake each particular task.

We can carry out your face fit testing, so if you need help selecting and fit testing RPE, contact us today on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk to discuss your requirements and we will provide you with a no-obligation quotation.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

Also contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.